Night opens up a new world of nature
I’ve been fascinated by things that go bump in the night since I was a young boy. Technology has now allowed me to explore that world more effectively.
It began when my father and I took a night hike from the campground up to Boucher Lookout on Palomar Mountain. On our return trip, dad suggested we hike without flashlights, only the guided by the soft light of a full summer moon.
This was a little disturbing for a youngster, but the memory is vivid, and the experience opened me to the world of nature at night.
Being without flashlights, we moved quietly and less obviously through the woods, allowing us to encounter owls, bats, raccoons, deer and eerie sounds like the harsh scream of the black-crowned night heron.
Since then, I have often hiked at night when there is moonlight and a relatively good trail to follow. On several night trips to the desert I have watched kit foxes foraging or discovered the glowing fluorescent green body of a scorpion under the glow of an ultraviolet light. And snake viewing on warm desert nights is always a possibility.
Nature doesn’t stop at night, so spending time exploring in the wee hours opens a whole new world of discovery. A little technology can even add to the adventure.
A few years ago, I invested in a game camera and had my first night encounter with Eastern Sierra bears, capturing photos as a mother and her cubs raided trash bins. The camera was big, clunky, used a flash for illumination and images were of low quality.
Nature cams have greatly improved, and I recently purchased a new one for under $100. It’s about half the size of my old one, has invisible infrared night vision, 16-megapixel daylight images, LCD viewing screen, both still and/or video capabilities, and runs on double A batteries. Other features include interval timer, motion detection, and the ability to set it to record only during certain hours.
I couldn’t wait to try it.
With careful planning, I set it up adjacent to a game trail at the far end of my property. This just had to be a great spot for coyotes, bobcats, skunks, maybe raccoons, opossums or other exotic creatures.
I set it for motion activation between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. and despite my excitement I waited for five nights before checking to see what was captured.
I had over 200 images. Some of the photos and video clips were the result of the wind moving plants and activating the camera. But every one of the other images were spectacular recordings of rabbits. Not a single coyote, bobcat, raccoon, or possum to be had. I was skunked.
Maybe I should let the coyotes know about all the rabbits.
Over the next few days I moved the camera around my property, capturing daylight images of our roadrunner, squirrels, quail and even an owl scattering rabbits just before dawn.
The latest location was our back patio, and that’s where I struck pay dirt.
On the first night, video and still images caught a curious coyote coming up onto the patio. The next night the camera caught a beautiful feral cat drinking from our bird fountain.
The amount of nocturnal wildlife activity surprised me. I’m eager to try more remote locations with hopes of getting images of more creatures, such as deer, mountain lions or ring-tailed cats that are very elusive natives.
The curious nature lover will soon discover that things that go bump in the night are as interesting and exciting as the denizens of daylight.
Members and guests of The Senior Anglers of Escondido will learn about the latest requirements for operators of boats at the club’s Aug. 10 meeting.
Corrina Dugger, from the Sacramento office of the State Parks Department, Division of Boating and Waterways, will be the guest speaker. She’ll explain new regulations requiring all boat operators to have a California Boater Identification Card. The program mandates that boat operators take a boater safety course, either online or at an in-person class.
The law now requires an ID card for boat operators between 12 and 18, but operators of any age will require the $10 card by 2025.
ESA meets at 9:30 a.m. on the second Friday each month at the Park Avenue Community Center, 210 Park Ave., Escondido. For additional club information, go tp senioranglersofescondido.net/
Ernie Cowan is a freelance columnist. Contact him at Packtrain.com or follow https://erniesoutdoors.blogspot.com/